Senator Dick Lugar still won’t say whether he’ll support state treasurer Richard Mourdock if he wins the Republican primary on May 8. My repeated requests for comment on this topic have been rebuffed or evaded by the Lugar camp.
Lugar’s refusal brings to mind other moderate Republicans who lost to more conservative candidates in the primary and then sat out the race or ran as independents. But that doesn’t mean he’s planning to run as a write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski–style.
As the Courier & Press reports, “under Indiana’s ‘sore loser’ law, the loser of the primary is not eligible to run as an independent or even as a write-in candidate in the fall.” Lugar himself, in a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board last month, admitted, “I’ve not given it any thought because, as I understand the election laws of Indiana, the Alaska example is not really pertinent.”
It may be that when he’s embattled and with polls tight, the Lugar camp doesn’t want to admit the possibility of defeat. His opponent, on the other hand, is willing to answer the question forthrightly. A spokesman told me, “Yes, Mourdock will support the winner of the Republican U.S. Senate primary.”
Was that so hard? Lugar’s stance is predictably opening him up to (none-too-subtle) blasts from his critics.
“One has to doubt Senator Lugar’s claim that he is a conservative if he won’t commit to supporting the Republican nominee,” writes Jim Bopp, Republican national committeeman for Indiana and a Mourdock supporter, in an e-mail to NRO. “This suggests that Senator Lugar might feel more comfortable with Democrat Joe Donnelly than a bona fide conservative Republican.”
Jackie Bodnar, press secretary for FreedomWorks, which has endorsed Mourdock, agrees. “It’s frustrating to watch a once-dignified senator become so unwilling to give up his power gracefully, that he would rather take his ball and go home than rally behind the Republican nominee,” she writes in an e-mail to NRO:
It’s sad to think that after being rejected by Hoosiers for an unprecedented seventh term, Dick Lugar would arrogantly sabotage Richard Mourdock in the general election. The entire point of the primary process is to re-evaluate incumbents based on their voting records and to evaluate new candidates like Richard Mourdock who offer to bring bold reforms to Washington, ultimately coming together as a party to defeat the Democrats in November. So it really makes you wonder, is Senator Lugar running to protect the Republican Senate seat, or just his Senate seat?
The Lugar camp can put this to rest by simply answering “yes” when asked if the senator — known for his graciousness and dignity throughout his career — will support his Republican opponent should he beat him next week.